WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Where Are They Now? Margaret Kelly

2012-07-09T20:00:00Z 2013-12-28T19:42:43Z Where Are They Now? Margaret KellyBy Mike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com

Though retired, there is no slowing down former Gavit girls basketball coach Margaret Kelly.

Kelly keeps busy, and one of those ways is volunteering for the Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana and with Nativity Our Savior Catholic church in Portage.

With Meals on Wheels, Kelly helps deliver meals to seniors and enjoys helping others.

"For some, that is their only meal for the day and it makes sure they get a good one," Kelly said. "It doesn't take that long, and it is a chance to help and give back.

"It (Meals on Wheels) is something that is needed, so why not do it?"

Kelly, who has been with Meals on Wheels for seven-plus years, gave a lot to female sports in the region and Indiana. She came to a then-brand new Gavit High School in 1961 and started the girls sports program. She coached several sports, most notably basketball, when girls sports were intramural and a few local contests.

Kelly was a pioneer in that she fought on the Indiana High School Girls Advisory Committee to get state tournaments for girls sports. The organization succeeded in getting the first girls state basketball tournament in 1976.

"I was hoping to get a state tournament in 1975 because I had a real good team," Kelly said. "I came up a day late and a dollar short on that one."

She said it was a tough fight.

"Southern Indiana did not want girls sports, and it was hard to convince them," Kelly said. "Remember, this was the late 1960s and early '70s. It took some time, but we got a state tourney going."

She said there were district-level competitions, and an unofficial state track meet was held at Gavit in 1972.

"At Gavit, Jo Armintrout started the G.A.A. (Girls Athletic Association) and I was able to run with it," Kelly said. "We just wanted to play sports and have the girls go out and compete."

Kelly graduated from St. Agnes Academy in Indianapolis, the sister school to Cathedral, but the school offered little more than sports in physical education classes. She went to Marquette University for two years and played basketball, then transferred to Purdue for her last two years.

"We went in station wagons to play road games," she said. "Purdue had station wagons and we piled into them. We didn't care. We were just happy to play.

"Sometimes after a game, we stopped and got a meal, and other times we didn't."

Kelly coached nearly everything from volleyball to gymnastics to field hockey. She said back in the late '60s and early '70s, Gavit, Portage, East Gary Edison (now Lake Station), Chesterton and later Valparaiso high schools all played field hockey.

"We would go up to New Trier and play and I remember their facilities were great and we didn't have much," Kelly said. "Our girls worked hard at field hockey."

She said Gavit used a practice football field for games.

"The grass was not short like it is supposed to be, so you would smack the ball and it would go only a few yards," Kelly said. "I knew one of the maintenance guys, and he would try and cut it short for us. Once a year we got to play on the football field, and the girls thought it was nice to hit a ball and see it go 70 yards for a change."

Her efforts were not unnoticed as she went into the Hammond Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. She was the Gladiators' girls basketball coach from 1965 through 2003. She also officiated basketball and volleyball.

"I loved that too," Kelly said. "In Hammond, we were lucky that we had some support and were able to get some opportunities for the young women."

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